Arthur James Balfour

Member of Parliament

(1) Theism and Humanism (2) Theism and Thought

In his first series of lectures, Balfour shows that the very best of humanity, whether aesthetical, ethical, or epistemological, requires God for its support and value. Explaining metaphysics in easily understood terms, he advocates for a Divine Knowledge that is both intimately philosophical and scientific. In his second series, Balfour reflects on the historical conflict of science and religion, arguing that adherents of scientific naturalism long for the infinite, though often obscured by their predisposition to the contrary.


Arthur James Balfour was born on 25 July 1848 at Whittingehame House, Scotland. Prime Minister and philosopher, Lord Balfour is best known for authoring the ‘Balfour Declaration’ of 1917. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, Balfour was elected as a Conservative MP in 1874. He became Chief Secretary to Ireland in 1887 and was appointed First Lord of the Treasury in 1891. When Lord Salisbury surrendered, the King sent for Balfour to form a government in 1902. After stepping back from politics to revisit philosophy, Balfour was selected as Foreign Secretary in 1916.

Serving twice on the council of the Royal Society, his dictated papers reveal clarity of thought that was the hallmark of his work. Balfour’s publications include A Defence of Philosophic Doubt: Being an Essay on the Foundations of Belief (1879), The Foundations of Belief: Being Notes Introductory to the Study of Theology (1896), Arthur James Balfour as Philosopher and Thinker: A Collection of the More Important and Interesting Passages in His Non-Political Writings, Speeches, and Addresses, 1879–1912 (1912), and Science, Religion, and Reality (1925). 

Published/Archival Resources